Brene Brown, in her CD series called The Power of Vulnerability, discusses 10 guideposts for what she calls “wholehearted” living; cultivating authenticity, cultivating self compassion, cultivating a resilient spirit, cultivating gratitude and joy, cultivating intuition and trusting faith, cultivating creativity, cultivating play and rest, cultivating calm and stillness, cultivating meaningful work and cultivating laughter song and dance.
Though all of the topics are rich and resonate with meaning, I have to confess that two of them really surprised me, and in turn, that surprise surprised me! How could I – a dancer, music lover, parent and Occupational Therapist be so surprised and utterly charmed that cultivating play and rest and cultivating laughter, song and dance make it to the top ten list?
And out of that list, the one that I think surprised me most of all was the word play. In Occupational Therapy literature, play gets lumped under the category leisure time, which immediately sucks some of the fun out of it. Leisure time can be any meaningful activity: watching TV, cooking, exercising, dinner with friends – all great to do but maybe different from play. For me, the word play conjures up fun, laughter, connectivity, losing sense of time, wanting to do nothing else but what you are doing, enjoying the moment fully and with abandon.
Play is fun, and leisure time is meaningful time spent.
How do we remember to play? What if it is not meaningful? Are we allowed to spend time not doing something for a purpose?
Brene Brown talked about making a pie chart with overlapping play areas amongst her family members to see which of their play experiences could be authentically shared. We haven’t done that yet, but as the summer floods in the season feels right to think about how we can, with a sweet push, fill it with play. And because my running list of meaningful work stomps on my play gene, I am trying to approach play not as a therapist, mother, or productive member of society, but with a deep exhalation to remind me that its ok to relax and cultivate play for myself.